Lakeland, FL (Law Firm Newswire) June 13 , 2013 — Not reading an individual their rights is not like what is depicted on television crime shows.
“One of the most frequently asked questions I get in my criminal defense practice relates to the police not reading a person their rights, and does that mean their case will be dismissed,” explained Thomas Grajek, a Lakeland criminal defense attorney. “This is usually followed closely by the individual also asking didn’t the police have to read me my rights?”
What many people do not realize is that Miranda rights only deal with statements made. Furthermore, every person accused of a crime has a Fifth Amendment constitutional right to not say a word —- to not be a witness against themselves. That means, in a nutshell, anyone accused of a crime does not have to talk to the police or answer any of their questions.
“In short, you have the right to speak to a competent criminal defense attorney if the police want to question you about a crime. On television it’s called lawyering up. Whatever you want to call it, it is your right to demand a criminal defense lawyer. Until you see and speak to one, say nothing,” added Grajek.
To further sort out the misconception that everyone must be read Miranda rights, the reality is that the police only have to read those rights if the individual is subject to an interrogation in custody. Custodial interrogation is being questioned by the police after being arrested and taken into custody. Being in custody is clearly a situation where the person is not allowed to go anywhere until an interrogation is conducted. “Meaning, if a reasonable individual were in the same situation as someone under arrest and in an interrogation room, that they would reasonably believe their freedom was limited,” Grajek outlined.
The long and short of Miranda rights is that law enforcement only reads them to a person if they are in custody. “And this is a point worth examining,” added Grajek, “as whether or not you are in custody is a decision made by a judge when a criminal defense attorney files a motion to suppress your statements —- asking they be thrown out, because your Miranda rights were violated.” If the court decides a person was in custody and the police did not Mirandize them, any and all statements are tossed out of court and they cannot be used against the person by a prosecutor.
It is best to consult with a skilled criminal defense attorney to further find out if any statements made, and thrown out, will mean any charges will be dismissed. “It depends on the evidence,” remarked Grajek, “as if the only evidence against you is your statements and a judge throws them out, the whole case is done for. But, if other evidence exists along with your statement, charges are not dismissed. However, the statements still cannot be used against you by a prosecutor.”
Criminal law is exceedingly complex. For those in situations where they need a criminal defense attorney, remain silent until one is contacted. This is a right of every American citizen charged with a crime.
Thomas C. Grajek
206 Easton Drive, Suite 102
Lakeland, FL 33803
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